Re: [John_Lit] Re: What did the BD believe (20:8)?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Schmehl" <p.l.schmehl@...>
Sent: Sunday, November 04, 2001 4:12 PM
Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Re: What did the BD believe (20:8)?
> I think it's unlikely that the texts would have been altered from son to
> Son would have been hO hIOUS, whereas sister is H ADELFH. That would be
> quite a change in the text. Perhaps TEKNON or PAIS could have been the
> original, which was then altered according to a scribe's beliefs, but
> there's no indication in the UBS 4th that there were variants in that
> section. Futhermore, given the culture of the time, I think any change
> would have gone in the direction of son, not sister. Therefore, I think
> it's unlikely that the text was altered.
Dear Paul Schmell:
While it's true that there are no currently existing textual variants on the
second person in 19:25, there is evidence that, in early Christian circles,
at least two textual variants on the second person in 19:25 were in
circulation. In one textual variant, the second person was a male figure.
In the other textual variant, the second person was Jesus' sister.
The evidence for a textual variant in which the second person is a man
comes from The Pepys
Gospel, which lists St. John where one would expect it to list the sister of
Jesus' mother. I am hard pressed to think of a reason for this other than
that the copy of 19:25 possessed by the author of The Pepys Gospel spoke of
the second person as beingt a masculine figure rather than (as in all
current copies of 19:25) the sister of Jesus' mother.
The evidence for a textual variant in which the second person is Jesus'
sister comes from The Gospel of Philip (59), "There were three who always
walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother and *her sister* and Magdalene, the
one who was called his companion. *His sister* and his mother and his
companion were each a Mary." (Note: I have given Philip (59) as rendered by
Wesley W. Isenberg in The Nag Hammadi Library, Marvin W. Meyer, Managing
Editor). I have not seen the Coptic text, nor would I be able to read it.
If someone has read this gospel in the Coptic, I would appreciate comments
as to accuracy of this English translation).
It would appear, here, that the author of Philip is trying to reconcile two
versions of John 19:25 known to herself or himself:
1. "But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother's
sister, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene."
2. "But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his sister, Mary
of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene."
The first version is the only version that exists today. The second version
is the second proposed variant for the second person in 19:25.
To account for the existence of what appear to be three versions of 19:25 in
early Christian circles, I propose the following scenario:
1. 19:25 originally read, "But standing by the cross of Jesus were his
mother, his brother, Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdalene." This was the
version of 19:25 known to the author of Pepys Gospel.
2. An early Christian noted that, in the verses immediately preceding
19:25, *four* Roman soldiers divided his garments among themselves, thought
that the author of John must have, for purposes of literary symmetry,
counter-balanced them with a list of *four* women in 19:25. Hence, this
person concluded, the text must be incorrect in listing the second person in
19:25 as being a brother(adelphos) of Jesus. Rather, it must be a scribal
error of an original text in which the second person was a sister (adelphe)
of Jesus. So, this person "corrected" 19:25 to read, "But standing by the
cross of Jesus were his mother, his sister, Mary of Clopas and Mary
Magdalene." This is one of the two versions of 19:25 known to the author of
3. Another early Christian, looking at this "corrected" version of 19:25,
interpreted it to be a reference to three people: (1) his mother, (2) his
sister, Mary of Clopas, and (3) Mary Magdalene. However, this person knew,
Mary of Clopas was the wife of Clopas: a brother of Joseph, the husband of
Jesus' mother. That is to say, this person knew, Mary of Clopas was not a
sister of Jesus but, rather a sister of Jesus' mother in the sense that she
was the sister-in-law of Jesus' mother. Hence, this person concluded, the
text he was looking at must have originally referred not to Jesus' sister
but, rather to Jesus' mother's sister. Hence, this person "corrected" 19:25
to read, "But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother's
sister, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." This is the other of the two
versions of 19:25 known to the author of Philip. This is also the only
version of 19:25 to survive until today.
If this scenario is correct, then the original version of 19:25-27 spoke of
how a brother of Jesus stood next to his mother by the cross and of how
Jesus turned over the responsibility for the care of their mother to this
brother. If so, then the Beloved Disciple was a brother of Jesus. Indeed,
as I have pointed out in some earlier posts, there is substantial evidence
that the Beloved disciple had been the brother of Jesus called James the
Paul, you also state:
> It's also important to note that while John mentions the four woman
> around the cross, he does not say that no one else was there, nor would it
> be reasonable to come to that conclusion. So the fact that he doesn't
> mention anyone else does not preclude the possibility that the "disciple
> that he loved" was there as well, and indeed he acknowledges that disciple
> in the very next verse.
> To say that verse 25 had its text altered to agree with the gender of the
> disciple in the next verse is to argue from an assumption that the four
> mentioned previously were the only four around the cross at the time,
> something that is nowhere indicated by the text. Wasn't it common in the
> Hebrew culture that the sons, beginning with the eldest, would support the
> mother if the father was dead? It would seem then that Jesus was simply
> reminding his younger brother of his duty to support his mother once Jesus
> was dead. Or perhaps he was asking the disciple, who was not his brother
> but his dear friend, to take care of his mother. I don't think either of
> those possibilities can be precluded simply from these verses. I don't
> think there's any need to argue for an altered text to support that
> conclusion. I do think, however, that arguing the disciple was a woman is
> not supported by the text at all, and requires quite a leap in logic.
I agree that 19:25, as it is in all still existing manuscripts of John, does
not *have to* be amended to make it conform to the surrounding text. It's
just that it better conforms to the surrounding text if the second person
was origiinally a brother of Jesus rather than a sister of Jesus' mother.
Also, I agree with you that the care of Mary probably
did, in accord with the culture at the time, go to her oldest son. Indeed,
this is but one of many reasons why, as I have pointed out in earlier posts,
19:25-27 indicates that the BD is the brother of Jesus named James the Just.
In these earlier posts, I assumed that 19:25 as it is in all existing
manuscripts of John, is original. *If* it did originally refer to "his
brother", as I propose above, this is but frosting on the cake so to speak.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments.
(Note: If, as suggested, the author of Pepys had a copy of John in which
the second person in 19:25 was "his brother", then the question arises as to
why he identified "his brother" with John. Perhaps he believed the
tradition that John bar Zebedee had been a cousin of Jesus and, so, a
"brother" of Jesus in the sense of being a relative?)
1809 N. English Apt. 17
Maplewood, MN USA 55109
- Dear Paul,
I'm still trying to catch up on previous e-mails.
On Fri, 7 Dec 2001 "Paul Schmehl" <p.l.schmehl@...> wrote:
> I'm afraid I'm not following you here. First let's look at what
> the text does not say.
> 1) It does not say that Peter did not believe.
Obviously I inferred that from the contrast between 20: 6 where
Simon Peter went in and saw, while in 20: 8 the "other disciple"
who reached the tomb first (the BD) also went in, and saw and
believed. The parallel structure in those two verses seems to be
suggesting that there is a contrast between how Simon Peter and
the BD responded to what they saw.
We are told in 20: 9 that neither of them understood the scripture
that explained the meaning of what they were seeing - that Jesus
must rise from the dead. I take that to mean that neither of them
was expecting the resurrection based upon their knowledge of
the scriptures. ISTM that it can be inferred that the identification
of those scriptures and the declaration that what Peter and the BD
saw was confirmation of the resurrection came after this event.
For the BD this look into the empty tomb generated belief, for
Peter we are at least not told that it generated belief.
I'm just pointing out that the hair I'm splitting here was split by
the way the text was written.
> 2) It does not say that the BD believed *until* (s)he went into
> the tomb
Are you suggesting that something I wrote indicates that the BD
stopped believing after (s)he went into the tomb? If I said any
thing to suggest that, I must have said what I meant poorly. I
have no intention of saying that the event stopped her believing.
If you mean that the text does not say that the BD believed
*before* (s)he went into the tomb, my reply would have to
be much longer, since I have made an extensive exegesis of
Jn. 11, 12 and 13 that suggests otherwise.
> 3) It does not say that the BD "understood more fully what the
> meaning of Jesus' ministry was than Peter did.
That point is made in the way Jesus interacts with each of them.
I've already pointed out the contrast between 12: 7 and 13: 8.
In 12: 7 Jesus is responding to Judas, not Peter, but he is defending
the anointing ritual performed by Mary of Bethany. In 13: 8 Jesus
is clearly rebukes Peter for not submitting to the footwashing ritual
that Jesus is performing.
Consider also 21: 20-21 in contrast to 21: 22. Peter is presented
as concerned about what to do about the BD. There is something
about the BD that bothers Peter. Could it be that the ritual that
Jesus has just completed -Do you love me / Feed my sheep- gives
Peter a different status among the disciples than before, one that
may appear to be in conflict with the status that Jesus has previously
given to Mary of Bethany, the BD, in 12: 7? (Again, my exegesis
of 11: 55- 12: 8 is much longer than I'm presenting here.)
> 4) It does not say whether Peter and the BD were in the tomb
> at the same time.
No, it says in 20: 6 that Simon Peter went into the tomb, then in
20: 8 it says that the other disciple also went in. In 20: 10 both
of them are described as returning to their homes (NRSV). The
Greek is more vague than that. It simply says that the disciples
went off again (toward their own? toward the other disciples?)
(APHLQON OUN PALIN PROS AUTOUS OI MAQHTAI).
Again, the impression is that first Peter entered, then the BD
entered, then both of them left.
> 5) It does not say whether Peter and the BD discussed what
> they saw.
Agreed. I can't imagine them not talking about it with each other
and everyone else they encountered, especially other disciples,
but you are right. The text does not say that they discussed what
they saw with each other.
> What the text *does* say is that:
> 1) Peter and the BD ran together
> 2) The BD arrived at the tomb first and looked in
> 3) The BD went in to the tomb after Peter did
> 4) *After* entering the tomb, the BD "saw and believed"
The word *after* is not used. The belief of the BD is
reported after the reader is told that the BD saw the same
things that Peter saw. We do not know from the text when
that belief began.
> I'm not arguing that the BD *is* John, mind you, but I am
> curious to hear your response to the question - why is John
> never mentioned in the FG?
"John" IS mentioned prominently in the FG. John the Baptist.
> I'm not particularly attached to any of these theories, mind you,
> I'm simply offering what appear to me to be logical alternatives
> to your conclusion that the BD *must* have been a woman and
> the phrase "BD" was used to "conceal" or "hide" the identity of
> the BD for fear that the book would be rejected as heretical.
> There *are* other equally logical reasons for the use of the term
> BD, some of which make a good deal of sense.
Paul, I appreciate your efforts to articulate the kind of assumptions
that may well have been used when interpreting the Fourth Gospel
throughout Christian history. To advance a new idea, one must be
able to address such assumptions. I cannot claim to have disproved
those assumptions. I hope that I have offered replies that suggest
that the conclusions I have drawn from studying the text are at least
as logical and appropriate as those that other scholars have long
assumed were the correct ones.
Yours in Christ's service,